Can you find the mean of Psalm 23? Mean isn’t only about temperament, or quality. Mean, in math, is the exact middle of a run of numbers. Count the total of the number, then count down from the top to the center, and count up from the bottom and you will meet at the mean, the midway point. This is great information when using statistics. But for a song, a psalm?
The exact middle, or mean, of Psalm 23 is powerful. Have you found it yet? In Hebrew, the original language of Psalm 23, the word in the exact middle translates, “you are with me.” In Hebrew poetry nothing is accidental. The exact middle, the mean of Psalm 23 is, “you are with me.” This is the whole point of the psalm. Even in modern English translations like The Message, one can find the mean. Psalm 23 has 21 lines. Ten down, ten up and right in the middle is “when you walk at my side.” The mean in the King James Version of this psalm is a verse, “for you are with me; your rod and your staff they comfort me.” The presence, protection, and provision of the Creator of the Universe, of God our Father is with us, with you and me. King David, the author of this psalm, knew this. God had cared for him through the danger of war with King Saul. Kept David and his men safe from harm and had provided for their needs. David knew God, so he wrote “you are with me.”
Finding the mean as a way to study the Bible? I can’t see looking for the mean in Numbers or Exodus, or even Revelation. But after a week like this last week, the mean of Psalm 23 gives hope and focus. “You are with me,” as I hurry to Houston. “You are with me” as I receive news of the illness of a dear friend. “You are with me,” when news of a tragic death within the congregation comes. “You are with me,” God with us here and now. God with you in the day to day. God with you in the joy and in the sadness. God with you, caring for you. I am not alone God is with me. God is with you. King David was on to something.